July 1, 2015 02:10 PM

Lafayette recently became the latest site for a program that provides continuity of care for the elderly. Program for Allinclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE, caters to low-income seniors living in the community to provide a central location for delivery of their health care in a more social, adult day-care atmosphere.

PACE Lafayette opened at the beginning of June and is the third such program in Louisiana thanks to the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, the parent company of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center.

The center acts as a place where seniors can go during the day to receive medical care, occupational and physical therapies along with social interaction with other seniors and overall recreation.

Prospective seniors are evaluated by a special team, which also involves their family members and other caretakers, to determine their eligibility and level of need so that a care plan can be developed by a team of doctors, nurses and social workers.

There is also a set of specifying criteria an individual must meet before being admitted into the program: They have to be age 55 and older, they have to meet the criteria for admission to a nursing home, they have to be able to live safely in the community, and they must reside in a certain area or zip code in order for service to be provided for them.

“When we say all-inclusive, it means that we’ve become the coordinator of all of their care,” says Karen Allen, director of PACE Lafayette. “So a primary care physician oversees their care at the actual PACE Center. The goal is that we want them to live in the community, in their home, their environment, as long as they possibly can and, by doing that, a part of their daily activities is for them to come to the PACE Center.”

According to Allen, the majority of PACE participants are dually eligible to qualify for Medicaid and Medicare, but individuals seeking a private pay model are also welcome in the program. Participants are also evaluated regularly to determine if their needs have changed so adjustments can be made.

PACE differs from a traditional nursing home in that it goes a step further by consolidating an individual’s entire treatment plan.

“Where PACE differs is that we are the comprehensive model that coordinates all of their care, meaning that in the PACE model you have a physician who is constantly there assessing the individual continuously with also the level of a nurse practitioner with oversight,” says Allen.

“In addition to that we are also coordinating all of their physician appointments,” she says. “If they need to have specialists — like appointments with a cardiologist or a nephrologist — we become accountable to make sure that they have the appointments, that there is follow up care and making sure that the continuity of care is seamless.”

Transportation is also provided daily to deliver patients to various medical appointments as well as bringing them to and from the PACE center, which is located off West St. Mary Boulevard near the old Lourdes campus. Several services are provided at the center, which is a Part D provider, including the disbursement of a patient’s medications.

“We are making sure that the prescriptions are there, managing their meds, making sure that a pharmacist or a pharmacy oversight model is there to look at medication adherence, and polypharmacy issues meaning that someone is taking multiple medications and make sure that there is no contradiction,” says Allen.

Essentially the program fills the gap between natural family (and other support systems that a patient might have) and what they can do for themselves.

“PACE really becomes the coordinator of care, or the facilitator, and works with the individual and their caregiver, or their power of attorney, to ensure that the right services are managed,” says Allen.

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